David Osterberg stepped down yesterday as executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, Iowa’s leading think tank. A legendary figure in this state’s environmental community, Osterberg served six terms in the Iowa House, chairing the Agriculture Committee for four years and the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee for two years. He has received honors and awards from many non-profit organizations and was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate against Chuck Grassley in 1998.
In 2001, Osterberg created the Iowa Policy Project “to bring a fact-based focus to public policy issues affecting Iowa families.” The organization’s research reports and Iowa Policy Points blog are must-reads for anyone interested in state policy. In conjunction with the Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center, the Iowa Policy Project also publishes valuable research on the Iowa Fiscal Partnership website. The latest Iowa Fiscal Partnership report shows how food assistance programs in the Farm Bill affect thousands of Iowans.
I was pleased to read in the statement enclosed below that Osterberg will keep working with the Iowa Policy Project on energy and environment research, and longtime assistant director Mike Owen will take over as executive director.
Iowa Policy Project press release, July 1:
Osterberg hands off keys at Iowa Policy Project
‘Visionary, vibrant contribution to public debate in Iowa’
IOWA CITY, Iowa (July 1, 2013) – Twelve years after starting the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) to bring a fact-based focus to public policy issues affecting Iowa families, founding director David Osterberg announced today he is handing off administrative duties to focus on his favorite issues.
Osterberg said he will step down as executive director of the nonpartisan public policy organization, but will stay at IPP to produce research on environment and energy policy.
Mike Owen, assistant director of IPP since 2001, becomes executive director effective today, July 1.
IPP makes policy analysis available to the public at www.iowapolicyproject.org in the areas of budget and tax issues, environment and energy policy, and economic opportunity trends in wages and jobs.
Osterberg, a former state representative from Mount Vernon and a professor of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa, will remain with IPP as an environment and energy researcher.
“When we started IPP 12 years ago, we saw how much Iowa needed a nonpartisan, solid source of information for our public officials to make good decisions and our citizens to evaluate them,” Osterberg said. “Since then, we have done so much good work.”
In recent years, IPP research has been cited by media and policy makers from both parties in the areas of property tax and business tax-credit reform, tax-increment financing, wind energy development, higher-education funding, wage theft and policies to address or prevent poverty.
“We have seen how that can make a difference – often with better policy, and always with better discussions – on issues that matter to all of us,” Osterberg said.
“I am really proud of our staff and I am confident we will continue to produce important policy analysis. And I still will have a hand in it, especially on the areas of energy and the environment. We have boundless opportunities for renewable energy but face continuing threats to water quality.”
Owen is a former news reporter, editor and publisher who directed communications efforts for IPP and the affiliated Iowa Fiscal Partnership, www.iowafiscal.org. He was the organization’s first full-time employee.
“I am excited for this new role at IPP. Iowa has seen the benefits of our founders’ foresight in creating this organization. Political sound bites dominate so much of public discussion about issues, and we need more than that,” Owen said.
“Under David’s leadership, IPP has delivered a visionary, vibrant contribution to public debate in Iowa. We will continue to be a reliable, nonpartisan resource that Iowans need.”
Board President Jennifer Sherer expects a smooth transition.
“For one thing, we know David Osterberg has too much energy to retire, so we will keep getting his expertise in the areas of environment and energy policy,” she said. “But IPP has always worked as a team, and we know Mike will keep the team’s spotlight on the issues that are important to working families in our state.”